This entertaining collection of anecdotes and stories charts the lesser-known history of the hunt for oil in the Middle East.The Middle East had long been awash with rumours and legends of oil, rumours that gradually seeped into Western Europe. The Greek historian Herodotus had once described the existence of "oil-pits" in Mesopotamia, while Jebel Zeit, a mountain on the west coast of the Gulf of Suez, was known by the ancients as Mons Petroleus. "The Oil Hunters" tells the stories of the explorers, spies and entrepreneurs who led the hunt for oil in the Middle East from the 1880s to the outbreak of the Second World War. Against the backdrop of British and Russian - and increasingly American - manoeuvrings for dominance in the region, Roger Howard explores the history of oil exploration in anecdotal style and with a lively pace. He brings to life forgotten figures such as Frank Holmes, revered by the Arabs as Abu Naft (the Father of Oil) and Harry St John Philby, father of the famous traitor as well as figures from the world stage such as Julius de Reuter, Calouste Gulbenkian and Charles R. Crane.The book shows how today's oil giants emerged not only in Persia but also Iraq (Mesopotamia), Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
British Petroleum, for example, was originally the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Considered by many to be one of the most important events of twentieth century history, the discovery of Persian oil in 1908 is related here as a vivid adventure story of exploration and exploitation, peopled by eccentrics, adventures and magnates.